Why Do Muscles Burn?

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Exercise is important for strengthening muscle and bones. As age progresses, there is decline in muscle tone and strength. Repeated exercise helps keep joints and muscle fit and active. Regular workout not only strengthens muscles but protects joints from wear and tear.

A rigorous workout can be exciting and breath-taking literally and works wonders to increase strength, stamina and endurance levels. This workout and training should be done regularly and should be made more intense gradually. Usually, after a workout it is very normal for you to feel soreness and burning in the muscles which typically accelerates between 24-72 hours after the workout. This does not indicate in any way that muscle is burning fat, rather it signals effectiveness of exercise. Due to this muscle soreness, many individuals abruptly stop exercising which can aggravate the condition and prevent the person from maintaining a healthy and disciplined lifestyle.


Due to vigorous exercise, there is decreased oxygen supply compared to the increased demand of oxygen in the muscle. This results in inability of the muscle to convert food to energy as a result of which there is accumulation of a metabolic product called lactic acid within the muscles. Due to this accumulation there is muscle burn, but this lactic acid clears up when exercised is stopped.  Muscle burning and soreness persists even after exercise.

This post-workout muscle soreness and burning which peaks after exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).This is the technical term for muscle soreness and burning. This occurs due to small tears in the muscle fibres. This is a natural process of the muscle that undergoed wear and tear and builds more muscle mass. Thus, natural healing of muscle occurs with repair and new muscle fibre formation.

This self-healing process takes about 2-3 days during which soreness of muscles may last and you may not be able to continue your exercise regime to your complete capacity. It is important to plan your workout in such a manner that there is a regular workout with a few days in between of rest or rather less exercise. This gives muscles an opportunity to heal and repair to the fullest.

Warm up or stretching is very unlikely to reduce DOMS though it is important to prior to the workout. The most practical way is to increase your workout gradually and not over exert yourself on the very first day of exercise. Other ways to reduce muscle soreness and burning would be to massage the affected part along with application of ice. Stretching and yoga may benefit but cannot prevent the soreness and burning fully.

It is critical to remain active between workouts and not remain completely sedentary. Walking and swimming can improve blood circulation thereby ensuring quicker recovery.


Regular exercise and workout are important to keep the body supple and fit. Muscles play an important role during any workout and help to keep joints mobile.

After a heavy workout or exercise, muscle burning and soreness sensations are very common. They typically manifest more between 24-72 hours post exercise. As assumed it is not due to lactic acid accumulation in the muscle rather it happens due to micro tears in the muscle fibres. This results in muscle burning and soreness. It takes 2-3 days to recover during which workout should not be stopped but should be minimised according to your comfort and capacity. Overexertion should strictly be avoided.

Author: rachita

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